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Six Distinguished Canadians to Receive Honorary Degrees at Trent University’s 2008 Convocation Ceremonies

Internationally Renowned Fiddlers Natalie McMaster and Donnell Leahy among List of Those to be Honoured at Spring Convocation Ceremonies

Wednesday, March 12, 2007, Peterborough

On behalf of Senate, the President of Trent University announced today the outstanding individuals who will receive honorary degrees at convocation ceremonies on June 4, 5 and 6, 2008.

“I am delighted that the University will have the opportunity to honour such a talented group of individuals whose accomplishments embody the spirit of Trent,” said President Bonnie Patterson.  “Each individual has made a significant difference both in Canada and around the world as leaders in their fields of music, film, business, humanitarianism and literature.”

The 2008 convocation ceremonies will be held over a three-day period, with two ceremonies on June 4 and June 5, and one ceremony on June 6.  This year’s event will mark the first time students will graduate according to their program of study, and not by college affiliation as in previous years.

The following individuals will be presented with an honorary degree at this year’s ceremonies:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 – Morning Ceremony:

Hugh Anson-Cartwright

Mr. Hugh Anson-Cartwright has dedicated his life to championing and preserving Canadian literature and is an internationally-recognized authority on rare books.  Using his great expertise, astute sense of observation, and disarming personality, he made it his mission to ensure that the printed record of Canadiana was collected and treated appropriately.  Mr. Anson-Cartwright has given generously to many Canadian universities, and has remained a steadfast friend and advisor to Trent University’s Library and Archives and academic programs since their inception.  Many of the University’s finest book collections materialized thanks to Mr. Anson-Cartwright’s sharp eye and facilitation, including the recent donation of Robertson Davies’ collected works and ephemera.  In addition to his active role preserving our national literary heritage, he is also a stalwart supporter of contemporary Canadian literature, providing assistance and encouragement to many emerging and established writers.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 – Afternoon Ceremony:

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy

Well-known to international audiences as one of Canada’s major musical talents, Ms. MacMaster is recognized an ambassador for traditional East Coast music, and is credited with lifting the style to its contemporary prominence.  Renowned for her flamboyant fiddling and step-dancing prowess, she has won two Juno Awards, including Best Instrumental Album, and eleven East Coast Music Awards, in addition to several Canadian Country Awards for Fiddler of the Year. In 2000, she was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Folk Album category and in 2006, Ms. MacMaster became one of the youngest people ever named to the prestigious Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour.

The oldest brother of the internationally acclaimed family musical group Leahy, Donnell Leahy is considered one of the best fiddlers in the world. Together with his siblings he has brought traditional Celtic music to audiences worldwide and played a major role in the Peterborough area’s musical community. Among his many achievements with the group, Mr. Leahy has won three Juno Awards, created three albums that have collectively sold more than half a million copies, and developed a summer music camp in the Kawarthas for young aspiring musicians. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008 – Morning Ceremony:

Zacharias Kunuk

Zacharias Kunuk is an award-winning filmmaker and sculptor whose distinct storytelling style has informed millions of viewers around the world about the Canadian Arctic and Inuit way of life.  Following the sale of three soapstone sculptures in 1981 during a trip to Montreal, he brought home the Arctic’s first home video camera.  Mr. Kunuk went on to co-found and become President of Igloolik Isuma Productions, Canada’s first Inuit-owned independent production company, in 1990. In 2001, he won the Camera d’Or at Cannes International Film Festival for Isuma’s first feature film Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), the film that brought him international acclaim for its dramatic story and powerful cinematography. Through his creative pursuits, Mr. Kunuk continues to develop media-based projects to preserve and represent Inuit culture and language, generating employment for the local Igloolik community and Nunavut.  In 2002, Mr. Kunuk was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Thursday, June 5, 2008 – Afternoon Ceremony:

Michael MacMillan

Michael MacMillan is a groundbreaking pioneer in the Canadian broadcast industry and a passionate volunteer to numerous community-based organizations.  A highly successful entrepreneur, in 1978 he co-founded Atlantis Films Limited which merged with Alliance Communications in 1998 to become Alliance Atlantis Communications Incorporated.  As Executive Chairman, Mr. MacMillan is noted for his fierce patriotism and his company continues to be one of the leading investors in Canadian programming.  Under his leadership, Alliance Atlantis has grown to operate 13 Canadian specialty channels and developed several internationally-acclaimed television shows, including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  In addition, Mr. MacMillan gives back generously to his community, supporting many organizations such as the Toronto East General Hospital, the Canadian Club of Toronto, the Toronto International Film Festival, and he is Chair of Upper Canada College.

Friday, June 6, 2008 – Morning Ceremony:

Flora MacDonald

Following many years of distinguished leadership in federal politics, the Honourable Flora MacDonald has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others in Canada and around the world.  As an active member of many humanitarian organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, Future Generations and the International Centre for Human Rights, she has become a leading figure in the movement to alleviate human suffering worldwide.  Among her many achievements, in 1979 Ms. MacDonald became the first woman in Canadian history to serve as Secretary of State for External Affairs in 1979; in 1998 she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada; in 1999 she received the Pearson Medal of Peace; and in 2004 the government of India awarded her with the Padma Shri, one of that country’s highest civilian honours. 

For a complete list of honorary degree recipients throughout Trent University’s history, please visit http://www.trentu.ca/administration/senate_hongrademinent.php.


For more information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence, Communications Officer, Trent University, (705) 748-1011, ext. 6185